Colour charts and magnifying glass

The single biggest challenge that people face when choosing their home decor is colour. As someone who teaches home design for a living, I see (on a daily basis) the fear and overwhelm that people face when it comes to choosing colours for their home.

I’ve written in the past about my own cringe-worthy struggles with choosing colour before I learned the “insider secrets”, and so I know from personal experience what this frustration and overwhelm feels like.

Colour is a complicated little beast. Firstly you have to consider the effect that you want to create in your home: do you want a loud, vibrant space, or a cool and calm space? Then there are the actual colours; which colours go together, and which colours clash? Then you need to know whether you want a pale colour or a strong, saturated colour… then where do you put the colour, and how much… And that’s even before you get into considering how to test paint and how the light in your room affects the colour too!


The list goes on and on. It’s no wonder that so many houses are painted magnolia!

Now, you could actually fill a whole library on the subject of colour, and I’m not going to pretend that today’s blog post is going to solve every colour woe. But there are a few steps that you can take to begin to bring colour in, in a small way, which feels safe and doesn’t cost the earth. If you try some of these ideas below and you don’t like the effect you create, you haven’t committed yourself to a dramatic change you’re stuck with.

Before I share with you these 5 ideas, there is one important thing to know:

“The key to making colour work in your home is to repeat your chosen accent colours in at least three places in the room.”

— Kate Hatherell, The Home Design School

Let’s make a start. Choose three of the suggestions below and have a go at colouring your home.

1. Artwork

Artwork is a great way to fill a blank wall, and to add a splash of colour to your room. Remember that you are just experimenting here; so don’t go overboard with an expensive print which eventually may not work in your scheme. You can pick up a canvas for a few pounds in most home stores in a whole range of colours, and this will allow you to experiment. Use the colours from your print and repeat them elsewhere in the room.

2. Soft Furnishings

 Image Courtesy of  English Blinds   Notice how the colours in the blind are repeated in the colours of the chairs, cushions, books and radio.  Image Courtesy of English Blinds Notice how the colours in the blind are repeated in the colours of the chairs, cushions, books and radio. 

Soft Furnishings are a great way to introduce new colours into your home: curtains are usually more on the expensive side, but throws for sofas, runners for coffee and dining tables, and towels in the bathroom are all relatively inexpensive ways to bring a splash of colour. Cushions and throw pillows come in every colour imaginable, and whilst they may not be the cheapest way to update a colour scheme (I always prefer to buy good quality cushions) but they can make a really striking impact without much effort or risk. Keep cushion costs down by re-using your inserts, and just replacing the covers.

3. Lamps, lampshades and ceiling pendants 

Selecting a lampshade in your chosen colour helps you to repeat the colour in several places in the room. A ceiling pendant will draw your eye upwards, and lamps dotted around the room will keep your eye moving between the accent colours you have chosen. 

4. Decorative Accessories

From tubs, baskets and pots, to china ornaments, picture frames, clocks and globes, there is a myriad of decorative accessories that you can use to bring colour into your home. The trick is to spread the colour throughout your space: don’t bunch all of the colour in one place. Big department stores like John Lewis and online retailers like Wayfair stock a large selection of decorative accessories in different colours. 

5. Create an accent wall

 Wallpaper by Woodchip & Magnolia Wallpaper by Woodchip & Magnolia

Although an accent wall is a bit more of a commitment than just adding a few cushions, painting just one wall is a less scary option than painting or papering a whole room. The bolder you go with your colour, the more of a feature the wall will become, so if you want a more subtle look, choose a pale tint of your chosen accent colour so that it supports your colour scheme, rather than dominates the room.   

So you now have five fairly safe ways to bring colour into your home. Remember: the key to making colour work in your home is to make sure that you repeat the colour in your room in at least three places. It’s no good just bringing in one pink cushion and hoping it will work. You need at least three items to create colour repetition. So think about adding in a pink cushion, a pink lamp and a piece of pink artwork to get the look to work.

And if you’re ready to take the next step and bring some paint colour into your home, be sure to watch the free video tutorial below to make sure that you get the colour right for you and your home. 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Until next time x

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